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Introduction  

The world firstly knew Nuclear energy as a deadly
weapon during the WWII, but after that though the nuclear weapon capacity is
still in attention of many countries the trend of nuclear power had changed to
be more peaceful purpose. Since the nuclear power is a technology using
released energy from the atoms of particular isotopes of either uranium or
plutonium, it could be a great source of power. Nuclear power plant (NPP) is
first operated commercially during 1950s i.e. the nuclear-generated electricity
was introduced for the first time on September 3, 1948 at the X-10 Graphite
Reactor in Oak Ridge Tennessee in the United States, and this is the first NPP
ever. After that NPP became an important part as alternatives for human energy
and continuously developed its technology.

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Nowadays, according to International Status and
Prospects of Nuclear Power 2017 by International Atomic Energy agency (IAEA),
there are 447 operational nuclear power reactors in 30 countries, and 60 are
under constructions in 15 countries. At the end of 2016, the total installed
capacity of these 447 reactors reached over 392 gigawatts (electrical) (GW (e))
that is the highest level ever been reported. Currently, nuclear electricity
generation worldwide is being increased moderately but continuously after the
dropping of generation following the incident in Fukushima, Japan in 2011. The
overall of global electricity produced by nuclear and its transition could be
provided as in figure1 below.

 

Figure13:
Nuclear Electricity Production (Source: IAEA PRIS (2017))

 

Again, in the
table 1 below represents the latest World nuclear power reactors in various
conditions and Uranium requirement in 2017.

 

 

Nuclear
Electricity
Generation

Reactors
Operable

Reactors
Under Construction

On
Order or Planned

Proposed

Uranium
Required

 

TWh

% e

No.

MWe

No.

MWe

No.

MWe

No.

MWe

Tones U

WORLD

2,490

10.6

447

392,335

56

60,570

160

165,317

351

401,895

65,014

Table1:
World nuclear power reactors and Uranium requirement 2017

Source:
World Nuclear Association to 1/9/171

From the table, 56 further nuclear power reactors
are under construction which is equivalent to 16% of existing capacity, while
160 are firmly planned or on order, equivalent to nearly half of present
capacity. Moreover, about 350 nuclear power reactors are proposed to construct
in the near future. Though fossil fuels, especially coal, are still the main
source of energy supply, the share of renewable energy such as nuclear
continues to expand.

Initiatives toward Present and Future       

According
to the high demand of electricity, the need for low-cost continuous and
reliable energy and the concern of climate change mitigation, nuclear power has
been considered as a proven, clear, dispatchable and economical (accessible)
technology to play important role as appeared in the conclusion of the Agency’s
2013 International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,
held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since then, two key global developments i.e.
the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the entry into force of
the Paris Agreement on climate change emphasized on the potential role of
nuclear power in the global energy mix which are promoting peaceful uses of
nuclear technology and promoting international cooperation and efforts to strengthen
global nuclear safety, security and safeguards to be recognized. 

The
status of nuclear power nowadays has to be considered through the context of
its initiations in international level which are a new global climate treaty
AKA the Paris Agreement, the 17 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the
2030 Agenda for sustainable development, and the 2°C scenario of the
International Energy Agency (IEA). The significant point of the Paris Agreement
is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in order to limit the average of
global temperature which is quite similar to IEA which is aimed at avoiding the
most damaging consequences of climate change. These two initiatives focused on
the reduction of carbon emission which nuclear power has potential to support
to address the climate challenge. Together with 17 SDGs which emphasized on the
triple bottom line or the three pillars of development i.e. economy,
environment and social equity. Energy issue is proposed to be considered in
SDGs despite the lack of it in MDGs as appeared in Goal 7: “Ensure access to
affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

According
to the agreement mentioned previously, international nuclear organizations also
took actions in practice. The World Nuclear Association’s (WNA’s) vision of
electricity generation, called ‘Harmony’, proposed the concept of diverse mix
of low-carbon generating technologies that are deployed in the way that the
benefits are maximized while the negative impacts are minimized in global nuclear
sector. The WNA has set a target of 25% of global electricity in 2050 to be
provided by nuclear energy, which would require roughly 1000 GW(e) of new
nuclear capacity to be constructed which this new nuclear sector will combine
regulatory processes and an effective safety paradigm  to meet this target. While the Nuclear Energy
Agency (NEA) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

(OECD) launched the Nuclear Innovation 2050 (NI2050)
initiative aims to produce a roadmap of research programs and infrastructures
building to contribute the role of nuclear power in the low-carbon power sector
of the future. Together with an agreement signed between the IAEA and the
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) established a framework for cooperation
in energy planning which focused on the effectiveness and impact of
infrastructure building.

Trends of Nuclear Technology        

The
global energy trends turned to focus on the lower of carbon emission and the
low-cost and accessible energy for the people. Therefore, nuclear power is
proposed to shine on the stage once again after the disaster at Fukushima
Daiichi power plant in Japan. Despite the safety that is highly critics,
nuclear power has all features needed from those international agreements. In
the next section will be discussed on the new trends in nuclear technology and
current status of nuclear power.

Technology’s
trends of nuclear power are about the development of reactor. There are many
new development and design of reactor’s technology in many ways; however, these
reactor designs that share the objective of enhancing safety, operability and
reliability while promising better economic competitiveness through technical
improvements. For example, Design and technology development of small and
medium sized or modular reactors (SMRs) which offer flexible power generation
for a wider range of users and applications. SMRS has a potential to reduce
emergency planning zone size and require less cooling water which are the most
criticizing disadvantages of NPPs; SMRs could be deployed at locations that are
not available for large NPPs. The three SMR nuclear power plant are in advanced
stages of construction in Argentina (CAREM), China (HTR-PM) and the Russian
Federation (KLT40) which are scheduled to be on operation between 2018 and
2020.

Moreover,
there is also nuclear technology emphasizing on the achievement of long term
sustainability of nuclear power like the sodium cooled fast breeder reactor in
Russia and India which would be available on operation in 2016 and 2017. High
temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) that offer a broad variety of
non-electric high temperature applications which can have a significant impact
on the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are also under a joint study
by China and Saudi Arabia, and Poland is considered as the demonstration for
HTGRs construction under the project called PRIME which is supported by EU,
Japan, the republic of Korea and the USA.

The Current Status of NPPs           

About
the current status of nuclear power, firstly, have to mention that the rate of
Global nuclear electricity generation has dropped by 91 TW·h less than the
average for the first decade of the twenty-first century though the rate of
production was about 2476 terawatt-hours (TW·h) due to the permanent and
temporary shutdowns in Japan, permanent shutdowns in Germany and the USA, while
compensated a little with the increases in China and other countries.

 

 

Figure14: Global
status of operational nuclear power reactors (left) and those under
construction (right), 1 July 2017.

(Source: IAEA
Power Reactor Information System.)

 

The
left panel in Figure 1 represents the distribution of the 447 nuclear power
reactors that are in operation in 30 countries around the world. Industrialized
countries still account for most commercial use of nuclear power. However, in
case of plants under construction (the right panel in Figure 13) is different:
from the 60 new reactors under construction worldwide, 39 are in the rapidly
developing countries of Asia; especially China.

The
share of nuclear power in total global electricity generation decreased for the
tenth year in a row, to almost 11% in 2015; however, this is still a third of
the world’s low carbon electricity production. Fossil fuels, especially coal,
still remain the main energy while the policy on the expansion of wind, solar
and biomass in electricity generation is still continuously driving.
Remarkably, though new renewable power (wind, solar and geothermal power, but
not includes hydropower) have surpassed nuclear power in total capacity, their
share of actual electricity generation is less than one third of that produced
by nuclear power due to their intermittency (see figure15).

 

Figure15: Global
electricity supply in 2000–2015

Source: Adapted
from IEA and BP

 

The
current Electricity demand in developing countries is now approaching that of
the industrialized countries and will likely surpass them before 2020. The countries
with rapidly growing demand of electricity generally encourage the development
of all available and appropriate electricity generating options, including
nuclear power. Figure 3 shows the shift in global electricity generation from
OECD to non-OECD countries.

 

Figure16 the
shift in global electricity generation from OECD to non-OECD countries (Source:
Adapted from IEA and BP)

 

In
economic dimension, in current situation nuclear power has faced the economic
transition from regulated electricity markets to competitive markets
remarkably. When it comes to economic issue in capitalist society cost-benefit
principle becomes important. In case of nuclear power, reactors proved to be
competitive low-cost generators because their high initial upfront investment
costs were fully depreciated and operators had to bear only operating and fuel
costs which are low compared to those of fossil fulfilled generation. The cost
advantage is the prime reason that utilities sought license extension sand
performed safety upgrades and power uprates. However, in recent years, some
owner/operator organizations have announced plans for shutdown of NPPs with
valid operating licenses, or those that could reasonably have had their
operating licenses extended. In many cases, reduced competitiveness has been
cited as the main reason for these premature shutdowns: low natural gas prices,
particularly in the USA, caused by a rapid expansion of shale gas production,
have fundamentally transformed the energy economy.

 

Projections for the Future Growth

Many
experts in nuclear issue participated in the exercise on agency’s annual
publishing projections what would happen in several decades for the world’s
nuclear power generating capacity, and it came out as two projections: a low projection
and a high projection.

The
low projection of nuclear power is the assumption that the current trends will
continue with very few change in nuclear policies. The perspective of the
projection is a ‘conservative but plausible’ to not assume that all nation
targets on nuclear power will be achieved. The evidence that support this
projection is the fact that more than half of 447 reactors currently in
operation are over 30 years old. The low projections appeal to show no net
growth of installed capacity. Nonetheless, it does not mean that there will be
no construction. Even in the low case, there is anticipation that at least 320
GW (e) of new nuclear power capacity will be installed by 2050.

The
high projection has the assumption that the current rates of economic and
electricity demand will continually grow; especially in the Far East. Nuclear
power will be accepted as an option for cost-effective climate change
mitigation. The nuclear power provides benefit from ‘electro-mobility’ that is
the shifting from the use of fossil fuels in transportation which avoids air
and carbon emissions.

Influential Factors for Future in
Nuclear Power 

Now
we will discuss about the factors which are important for determining whether
further developments on nuclear power will become low or high projections. The
factors can be categorized as safety, funding and financing, electricity
markets and nuclear policies, innovations, waste management, and public
acceptance.  

1.
Safety

            After
the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the global concerns on nuclear safety increased
drastically. According to the concern on the nuclear safety, the nuclear
sectors are required to improve their safety that includes more effective
defence in depth, strengthened emergency preparedness and response
capabilities, and enhanced measures for the protection of the people and
environment. Due to IAEA (2017), the agency is revising safety requirements and
making the request for assistance to develop their programs for leadership and
management for safety and capacity building. The conclusion is that procurement
related activities are the key impact on safety i.e. procurement engineering
and efficient supply chain program with high quality control and assurance
processes ill play an important roles for nuclear safety.

2. Funding and
Financing

            One of nuclear power’s disadvantages
is that the cost of construction is very high and needs long periods of benefit
returning; together with uncertainty of the market risks these economic risks
became critical for nuclear project’s developers. In order to solve this
problem in the future, the arrangement for liberalized electricity market is
required; potentially backed by the government of the country hosting the NPP
to mitigate the risk. Guaranteed fixed price is necessary to developing
projects like occurring in Akkuyu (Turkey), Hinkley Point C (UK) and Olkiluoto
and Hanhikivi (Finland). Moreover, the project must be ‘de-risked’ from the
perspectives of the lenders; otherwise there would be no funding which we will
discuss later in the part of public acceptance.

3. Electricity Markets
and Nuclear Policies

Since
2014 the global power market faced a big challenge due to the decline of gas
prices, the rapid deployment of renewable energy, the shifting of demand from OECD
to non-OECD countries, and the absence of a meaningful CO2 Price Signal. The
trend of global energy turns to be positive on nuclear power development since
its potential as a low-carbon energy source is widely recognized according to
many agreements and SDGs mentioned previously.

SDG
7 emphasizes affordable and clean energy as a fundamental pillar. The benefit
of nuclear power in SD becomes very explicit since it is represented to be
low-carbon and affordable energy that can benefit to other dimensions in SD
apart from energy issue or just economy. However, the concerns on environmental
and human health caused by the risks of radioactive waste management and
accident are still main issues on nuclear energy that need to be clarify and
solve in order to succeed in all three pillars of SD: environment, economy and
social equity.

4. Innovations

Due
to the risks of NPP, innovations are presented to improve performance and
prevent unexpectable incident. Several advanced design and development on
nuclear technologies are on process to improve reactor system and fuel circles
as mentioned previously in part of trends on nuclear technology.

5. Waste Management

One
of the most critiques on nuclear power is the implementation of high level
waste (HLW) repositories. The development towards operation of disposal
facilities continuously conducts in many countries which the success of it will
result in high impact on both political and public acceptance of nuclear power
like the construction of the deep geological disposal facility for spent
nuclear fuel occurred now in Finland, Sweden and France. 

6. Public Acceptance

Public
acceptance seems to be the conclusion for influential factors of nuclear power.
Due to the tragedies in the past and risks in the future, some parts of society
are seriously aware of using nuclear power. Nevertheless, stakeholders
involving in nuclear policy and investment decisions could play very important
roles for the successful and safe deployment of nuclear power. Timely
communication and public participation are needed to contribute better
understanding and leading to informed consent by the stakeholders. This is not
about economic issue that emphasizes only the growth of market and supporting
infrastructure, but the environmental and social dimensions must also be
considered seriously for fair and consistent decision makings on nuclear
power.     

 

?. Case study of
nuclear power in Asia

 

In this section, we describe current situation and
issues of nuclear power with two examples of Southeast Asia and Japan.

 

1.
Overview of Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia (ASEAN)

As 2000s witnessing fast-growing nuclear power plant
in Asia countries, where China forecasting to be “nuclear renaissance”
and many other Asian countries embarking on their first nuclear power projects,
which known as “nuclear aspirants”. Regional countries of Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) include as the nuclear aspirants. Therefore
nuclear suppliers like the United States, Russia, Japan, and South Korea have
been particularly active in signing cooperation agreements with ASEAN nations
or supporting these countries to explore the feasibility of nuclear energy.

Figure 17: Total energy production by sources in Southeast
Asia, Source: Sea Energy outlook 2017 by IEA

In Southeast Asian context we can see from the graph
above that until year 2016, nuclear energy still have not listed as source of
energy production in ASEAN countries. After almost a decade of pondering the
nuclear option, no ASEAN state has made the decision to go nuclear nowadays. We
can observe that in Southeast Asian countries which mainly rich of energy
resources still depend primarily to first, coal; second, oil; and third, gas.
Mostly non-renewable energy, while Bioenergy showing good sign of renewable
energy adaptation in ASEAN countries.

As case studies that show ASEAN may not be a
potential market for nuclear energy in the immediate future will be explained
by country’s analysis below:

 

v  The
Philippines

When
Philippines was under the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the
Philippines became the first Southeast Asian country to build a nuclear power
plant after the Philippine government signed
contract with American company Westinghouse with a 600-MW project
in Bataan in 1973. However, after facing a fierce anti-nuclear movement and
allegations of corruption, the construction of the Bataan nuclear power plant
was only completed in 1984. With the overthrow of the Marcos regime in 1986,
however, the nuclear plant has since been decommissioned without operation.

Figure
18: Bataan Nuclear Powerplant, Phillipines, The Only Established

(But
Decommisioned) Nuclear Powerplan in ASEAN.

(Source:
www.manilalivewire.com)

 

Even
though more than $2 billion investment for the construction of the nuclear
project, the Philippine government has explored plans to revive the Bataan
project or to convert it into a thermal power station. Until recent none of
these plans were seriously considered due to the high projected cost and strong
public opposition, particularly from the Catholic Church.

 

v  Vietnam

Vietnam
considered as the most potential customers of nuclear energy aspiration in
Southeast Asia. Because Vietnam government has been considered the most serious
regarding high-profile agreements with Russia and Japan on the construction of
two plants in Ninh Thuan province. Vietnam having ambitious plan to build up to
ten nuclear units by 2030.

 During the Fukushima nuclear accident in March
2011, neighboring states like China and Thailand decided to slow down their
nuclear programs or withdraw from nuclear aspirations plan. However, the
Vietnamese government still continue their commitment to follow through with
the announced nuclear plan and even broadened the country’s nuclear cooperation
by signing a nuclear agreement with the United States (known as the “123
Agreement”) in 2014.

 

Figure
19: Plan of Vietnam Nuclear Powerplant in two provinces in Vietnam

(Source:
http://nld.vcmedia.vn/)

 

Its took many years for Vietnam Nuclear Plan to
progress, in the Ninh Thuan nuclear project in late 2015 it was reported
that the start of the first unit’s construction would likely be delayed for six
years, from the initially planned 2016 to 2022, with the operation date will be
moved further to July 2028. And later that year, leader of Vietnam Communist
Party’s surprised the media and the public with a disagreement among the
Party’s leadership on the feasibility of the Ninh Thuan project and proposing to
stop the nuclear development program for good.

Recently there is possible termination of nuclear
development in Vietnam. With revision of National Electricity Development Plan
in 2016. It confirmed that Ninh Thuan nuclear plant delayed until 2028, alongside
a significant drop of nuclear power estimates by 2030 (from 10.1 percent in the
original plan down to 5.7 percent). Vietnamese domestic media has still focused
on debating the necessity of nuclear energy for the country or discussing the
risks of the Chinese nuclear plants that have been built and operated near the
border with Vietnam (source: The Diplomat).

 

1 Operable
= Connected to the grid
   Under Construction = First concrete
for reactor poured, or major refurbishment underway
   Planned = Approvals, funding or
commitment in place, mostly expected in operation within 8-10 years
   Proposed = Specific programme or site
proposals, timing of start of operation very uncertain

 
TWh = terawatt-hours (billion kilowatt-hours); kWh = kilowatt-hour; MWe
= megawatt (electrical as distinct from thermal)

 

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